Reviews

Arc Review: The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould 💜 Ghosts, Secrets and Smalltowns

Arc Review The Dead and the Dark

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CW’s: Child Death/Death/Murder (including a graphic Murder Attempt), Homophobia, Violence

Representation 🌷 Lesbian MC, Questioning (Lesbian) LI (+ the MC has two Dads who are Gay and Bi)

Courtney Gould’s thrilling debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding home in places ― and people ― you didn’t expect.

Expected Publication: August 3rd 2021

The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won’t stay hidden any longer.

Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.

Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness

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Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review! All quotes are taken from the Arc and subject to changes.

“She was the black hole, the one always reaching, the one always starving. She wasn’t wanted – not in a real way.”

Logan was a wonderful protagonist with an arc of finding home and healing. She’s putting on a brave face and fighting back with her witty retorts and sarcasm, but deep down Logan is a lonely creature. She never had a place to call home, as her ghost hunting Dads have their own TV Show and therefore moved her around a lot. Generally, Logan feels like a stranger in her own family, someone who isn’t truly wanted and has no real place here. It really touched me how the book discussed her feeling of isolation, especially as Logan is immediately shunned in Snakebite as well, since her fathers aren’t really welcome there. She’s tired of the lies she hears from her parents, so Logan sets out to find the truth Snakebite and why her fathers wanted to return to their childhood home in the first place. I appreciated the journey of Logan trying to finally create a space that felt like home and in the end, starting the journey of healing from her trauma. She goes through a lot in this book, but I was rooting for her all the time!

Her dynamic with Ashley was great, though this very slow-burn romance wasn’t the focus of the book. Ashley is a Snakebite native and from a family of great influence in the small-town. Ever since her boyfriend Tristan disappeared 6 months ago, she’s determined to find him alive and bring him back home. When the mysterious Logan and her shunned family appear, it seems like they are Ashley’s only help when so many others have given up on Tristan. Ashley and Logan become reluctant allies in their search to find out the mysteries of Snakebite and quickly form an unlikely friendship, which slowly blossoms into more. It’s more of subplot to the story (so be prepared for the mystery to take up way more space), but I enjoyed this very complicated slowburn romance! Logan and Ashley are often at odds, because Logan’s fathers are shunned in town and seen as responsible for the bad things happening. Meanwhile, Ashley’s family has a certain image that she is afraid to tarnish and her friends scorn Logan as well. She also deals with figuring out that she didn’t have the same romantic feelings Tristan had for her – though she still loves him a lot as a best friend – and that she might like girls. The latter is a Taboo in her small town, so Ashley is caught between her family’s expectations and what her heart truly wants.

“She was tired of being treated like she was the unreasonable one, when she was being lied to and shut down left and right. She was tired of being the bad guy.”

I appreciated the depiction of complicated family dynamics so much! As I already mentioned, Logan doesn’t feel at home with her two Dads – Alejo and Brandon – and has an especially strained relationship with Brandon. She feels like he doesn’t love her and tries to stay away from her as much as possible, so Logan has given up trying to understand him or connect with him. Her relationship with Alejo is slightly better, as he’s got her sense of humor and is really trying to be a good parent. However, he isn’t perfect either and often hides things from her or ignores her hurt feelings over Brandon. I liked Brandon and Alejo as characters because they felt so flawed and realistic. We slowly find out why they act so secretive and distant, as they deal with their own trauma. Coming out in a homophobic small town wasn’t easy on them and even now they experience the hatred of their town. They are two people trying their best to keep Logan safe, while also not realizing how much their behavior hurts her. I want more of these family dynamics that are difficult and yet full of hidden love. I especially appreciated how in the end they slowly begin the journey of healing and mending their family, though Logan knows there is still a lot to be done and that things won’t be remotely okay for a long while. Apart from her dads, I also loved to see Logan connect to Alejo’s side of the family, who still lives at Snakebite: Gracia and Elexis, her cousin!

The story was an addictive blend between mystery, paranormal and thriller. I read the first 50% in one sitting, because the story was so engaging and good. The author is masterful at slowly building up the mystery and exploring the character’s relationships. I especially liked the paranormal element of the story, as an entity known as The Dark is involved in the mystery of Snakebite and Logan’s Dads run a ghost-hunting show … which might seem like a scam, but it turns out there are actually ghosts. Some people can even see the supernatural and it fits perfectly into the mystery of why people keep dying/disappearing in Snakebite and who is behind it all. The twists were good – though not mind-blowing – and I liked how the author build up all the tension and the subtle clues as to what was really happening 👀

“Quietly, the three of them were pulling apart. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was just time. Maybe that was worse.”

IN CONCLUSION.The Dead and the Dark was a fantastic blend of mystery, paranormal and complicated family relationships. The characters were all wonderfully flawed and realistic, all trying their best but also ending up hurting others. I liked the nuance in the characters Arcs and relationships as well. If you’re looking for a paranormal mystery, I’d highly recommend checking out this book!

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Are you going to read The Dead and the Dark? What is your favorite book with a sapphic romance? Any recommendations for books with paranormal elements? 💜

12 thoughts on “Arc Review: The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould 💜 Ghosts, Secrets and Smalltowns

  1. You know when you have that feeling that you’ll love a book? well, that happens to me with this one so I hope I can read it this year! 😍😍😍
    AMAZING REVIEW, as usual and I love the aesthetics of your blog so much, it always lifts my spirits ❤️😊✨

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently added this book to my tbr and your review has just convinced me to push it to the top of it when this is published. I really love slow-burn romance, and this sounds like a good one even if it isn’t the focus of the novel. The thing that made me really excited was the way you described the relationship between the MC and her Dads – it sounds really complex and I can’t wait to read that! Great review, Caro!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy to hear that!! 🥰 The romance was the perfect slowburn and I liked seeing the characters slowly grow closer together even if it wasn’t the focus of the story. The family aspect was also one of the best things, so messy and complicated! Thank you!! ❤

      Like

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